Why Apple should hold firm against U.S. government overreach

“Personal privacy and doubts about law enforcement’s motives give Apple the better argument in the case springing from the horrific San Bernardino shootings that left 14 dead,” The San Francisco Chronicle editorializes. “FBI Director James Comey told a congressional panel that his agency will be back with more demands to pry into other smartphones if he succeeds in unlocking an iPhone belonging to one of the killers.”

“That ghastly crime demands a full investigation. But if the FBI gets Apple to unlock a single smartphone, it sets an unnerving precedent,” The Chronicle writes. “A powerful tool, once developed, will be hard to put away. Already other prosecutors and police departments are lining up garden-variety cases in which encrypted phones figure.”

“The FBI is dictating that a company write lock-busting software that lessens the worth of its own product. Once this handiwork is done, it could create a digital backdoor that criminals or hackers could exploit,” The Chronicle writes. “Repressive countries such as China could demand Apple do the same and cough up password overrides, a worry underlined this week by the head of the U.N.’s human rights chief. The FBI’s plausible hunt for information on the San Bernardino shooters could swing out of control.”

The Chronicle writes, “A better forum would be Congress.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Ditto.

Congress, not the courts — legislation, not judicial decrees — should decide this issue. — MacDailyNews, March 1, 2016

Why even Apple’s mortal enemies are lining up to protest U.S. government overreach – March 4, 2016
Apple’s best defense against the FBI is the one it can’t share publicly – March 4, 2016
San Bernardino DA: Terrorist’s county-owned iPhone could contain ‘dormant cyber pathogen’ or something – March 4, 2016
U.N. Human Rights Commissioner: U.S. government risks opening a Pandora’s Box in Apple iPhone case – March 4, 2016
Former U.S. Homeland Security Chief: iPhone override would be software equivalent of biological weapon – March 4, 2016
U.S. Congressman introduces bill to forbid federal agencies from purchasing Apple products until company unlocks terrorist’s iPhone – March 3, 2016
Apple is racking up supporters in privacy fight against U.S. government overreach – March 3, 2016
Husband of San Bernardino terrorism victim backs Apple vs. U.S. government overreach – March 3, 2016
Over 40 companies to back Apple vs. U.S. government overreach; beleaguered Samsung still thinking about it – March 3, 2016
Apple posts amicus briefs in support of Apple vs. U.S. government overreach – March 3, 2016
U.S. Defense Secretary says strong encryption essential to national security, not a believer in back doors – March 3, 2016
Apple digs in for long fight against U.S. government overreach: ‘There is no middle ground’ – March 3, 2016
ACLU, other privacy groups urge U.S. judge to support Apple vs. U.S. government in iPhone case – March 2, 2016
Apple scored the knockout punch against FBI in House Judiciary Committee hearing – March 2, 2016
Within an hour of Malaysia Flight 370 disappearing, Apple was working with officials to locate it – March 2, 2016
John McAfee reveals how the FBI can unlock an iPhone in 30 minutes – March 2, 2016
Can the FBI force a company to break into its own products? No, says U.S. Magistrate – March 2, 2016
Apple CEO Cook decried Obama’s ‘lack of leadership’ on encryption during a closed-door meeting last month – February 29, 2016
Obama administration set to expand sharing of data that N.S.A. intercepts – February 28, 2016
Apple’s fight with U.S. could speed development of devices impervious to government intrusion – February 24, 2016
Petition asks Obama administration to stop demanding Apple create iPhone backdoor – February 19, 2016
Obama administration claims FBI is not asking Apple for a ‘backdoor’ to the iPhone – February 18, 2016
Obama administration wants access to smartphones – December 15, 2015
Obama administration war against Apple just got uglier – July 31, 2015
Obama’s secret attempt to ban cellphone unlocking, while claiming to support it – November 19, 2013


  1. Congress may be the place for the debate, but I doubt Congress will side with Apple on this issue because most of them do not understand the technology, nor the implications of handing the keys to enforcement. Ever wonder what exactly they want to enforce?

  2. Why cause they want to look like they are championing something… but they just want to sell more iPhone, iPads, Macs, etc.

    There is no privacy… Medical records are not even yours. You don’t remember your doctor’s having you sign all the paperwork. Well, some of those papers state the records belong to the office not you. Plus your insurance company gets your records all the time…
    And anyway, those records can be subpoenaed by the courts … nothing hidden there.

    So what are you trying to hide on your phone? pictures, private thoughts…

    It can’t be you don’t trust the government that’s why you are claiming privacy… You don’t want your friends and neighbors knowing. Cause really what does the government care.

    You’ve been played, suckered to hate your government, really to hate yourselves, in the US the people are the government.
    Those that tell you to hate your government are the same ones that don’t want you to form a union, cause working together may actually get you more money. They are the same ones that want you to drink brown lead will water, they tell you regulation is bad, again they don’t want you to ask your neighbor is your water funny looking or smelling. They want you to buy bottled water, so they can make money. They don’t want you to ask questioned about the environment even though everyone in your neighborhood has developed cancer. They want to blame the government for regulation even though it was a company that dump those poison in you area. Then some developer that didn’t tell you about it… ( That’s not the government )

    You are to afraid of yourselves, You Are The Government.

    If you want privacy, tell no one. Keep your thoughts in your head only. Images, same place. Who you call, the telecom can provide that. There is no privacy once a subpoena is issued. You are the government, don’t like that, change it. after all you are the government. Stop self hating.

    1. Oh OK I understand completely what you’re saying. No one in the world deserves privacy. Nobody is allowed to choose where they keep their private thoughts and information and whatever else images whatever. Right. Thank you for making that clear.

      1. No you don’t understand and that too bad. What I am saying is the only thing or things that are private are those thing you keep in your head.
        In the USA, once that subpoena is presented whatever they want is up for grabs, legally. Now what make a phone different from a locked safe. Should the government have the right to crack it open?
        I’m saying you in the USA must make that decision. “We the people” that’s the start of the preamble. You need to move past your childhood ideologies, of the constitution and what you think it protects and the way it is protected. You are secure in you papers until they are subpoenaed.
        The constitution is clear on this thought, you cannot be forced to testify against yourself, it does not say your writing, your acts are excluded from being used against you in a court of law.

        You need to make better representative decisions, conservatives believe only in the rights of business. So much so they have elevated a business to a person.

        Wake Up!

        So what if the US decides that Apple need not decrypt, every other country could. Apple’s choice then…

        Think! This is about Money!

        1. Frankly if you think that the only things that are private are those things you keep in your head you haven’t been keeping up to date with human decryption and information extraction at the lovely and very exclusive Guantanamo on the Bay Resort.

          Now you are right about that country believing that once a subpoena is presented whatever they want is up for grabs but really it’s whatever they can get and interpret.

          A list of contacts on a chalkboard is no good longer any good, once the chalk board has been erased. It’s still chalk, it’s still chalk board but there is no way that I know of to accurately put those bits of chalk dust back onto the board to represent the message. No more than a burn piece of paper that has been chemically changed. It’s no longer searchable.

          You are right about one thing, it’s Apple’s choice. If they choose to make an encryption that makes searching of evidence on the device no longer possible it’s their decision. Each country will have to deal with the plus and minuses of such an invention, but it’s not going away.

          They are are championing something and they do want to sell more iPhone, iPads, Macs, because of the feature(s) they are championing.

        2. You forgot to add that it if the government wants to crack a safe that they have access to through a subpoena, thats legal, and they are free to crack away, even if the safe is booby trapped to cause all the documents to melt in acid once air is allowed inside. THE SAFE MANUFACTURER IS NOT REQUIRED TO SUPPLY THE KEY!

          and we are only asking that safe be as secure as the safe that the company sells to the next guy who also might want to crack that safe (frenemies?).

          What the government is asking is for this company to sell a safe that is less secured to the government than the one they sell to their friends and neighbors (and ultimately enemies)

          And then of course everyone will find out how to “crack” this safe and there will be no more safes for you to protect your valuables whether they be private (like for instance your sexual proclivities or political leanings) or whether they be publicly known to exist (like for instance gold or money or guns in your house)

          Imagine Fort Knox with the Donald as president?

          then imagine someone who does not like you, getting their hand on your phone, and finding out you believe in freedom and have posted this information on a site that anonymizes you and they find on your phone that it was indeed you and you are locked up or sent to Auschwitz

    2. your post is so ignorant that I noticed that most of our regulars don’t even bother answering you. But since the post is irritating me I’m going to give it a shot:

      1) you might think your privacy is worth nothing but others might believe theirs have some value.

      “Cause really what does the government care.”
      I have LIVED and WORKED in some repressive regimes where the governments CARE A LOT. In those places if you belong to certain minority, have certain religious beliefs (contrary to the State sanctioned religion), are gay or believe that women have rights and are ‘not property’, or have ‘complained about a politician like the Prime Minister’ to friends in an email, belong to a rival political party … they WANT TO KNOW because you can be denied jobs, business licenses, education (seriously I’ve been to places where if you’re the wrong ethnic group or religion you can’t get into govt. colleges), government housing, banned from military service (they don’t want you carrying guns) or END UP IN JAIL. So if I have any of those ‘inclinations’ or ‘designations’ I SURE AS HELL WANT TO KEEP IT PRIVATE FROM GOVERNMENT.

      I’m just using extreme examples (REAL ones though) so that it is easier to grasp. but I believe that even relatively ‘good’ governments like USA if NOT PUT IN CHECK WILL ALSO SLIDE (” Power corrupts… ” ) . Snowden has already released documents showing that the USA govt. has tapped thousands of innocent citizens without court order. And of course Apple sells in 100 countries…

      2) Privacy is just 50% of the problem.
      If you read the article it points out (as most people with a brain knows -that’s why practically all tech companies and cyber experts are backing Apple) — that “Once this handiwork is done, it could create a digital backdoor that criminals or hackers could exploit,”

      If criminals get a hacker OS they can possibly develop tools that can get your schedule and family details (and perhaps kidnap your child), switch on your phones camera or your house security cams, steal your companies business data , get your passkeys to your house, car, get info on your bank accounts etc etc.

      Not only that but the FBI and their allies (as leaked documents of their plans show ) have a broad based plan to put BACK DOORS which are vulnerable to criminal hackers on every device including PCs, routers etc. This Apple phone thing is just the first step , they are using this EMOTIONAL terrorist case (as opposed to the many other phones they have) to swing public sentiment to their side. (mysteriously the reason why the phones info can’t be assessed through iCloud is that the FBI as they have admitted changed the iCloud passcode of the phone … ) .

      If backdoors are mandated in devices (like the new law proposed in New York and France) it will result in the meltdown of the tech landscape as hackers will have a field day.

      Me, I think I’m lucky that I have Apple and somebody with enough balls like Tim Cook to fight this. I’ve criticized T.C myself in certain issues like Mac upgrades etc BUT in THIS issue he’s 100% right and I back him to the hilt.

    3. I want to continue to use Apple Pay and other online banking services. Allowing back doors or weakening Apple’s “secure enclave” 64-bit tech would open the door to criminals who want to drain your bank account.

  3. I’ve pointed this out before but the MDN community has been wonderful talking about this issue. There are a lot of great points, and the discussion has been top notch, the posts making more sense than some of the drivel reported by others. I mean an iphone holding a dormant cyber pathogen, gosh that’s so pathetically hilarious.

    There is some good things being written, and in this editorial “doubts about law enforcement’s motives” is coming up again and again. The people of the free and civilized world started to have doubts about that government, in fact when I read this editorial I wanted to fix it up a bit to read:

    OTHER “Repressive countries such as China could demand Apple do the same and cough up password overrides, a worry underlined this week by the head of the U.N.’s human rights chief.”

    That’s the big challenge for they the wee people of the country, realizing that their country has been repressive, xenophobic and well just not a nice global citizen over the last decade is the first step, and I believe that the good people, those with morals and ethics will prevail. Apple is the shinning star of that country right now, let’s hope that the light shines back into the moral fiber of that once great nation.

    Hold firm Apple, it is the power to be our best with insanely great products. Encryption is one of them.

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